The Museum of Innocence at Somerset House, London SW1

Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk, created the Museum of Innocence alongside his writing of the novel of the same name. Both tell the story of a wealthy socialite’s love for his shopgirl cousin, whom he knows he can never marry. This show displays 13 of the 84 vitrines put together by Pamuk and representing everyday items that take on significance as mementos of the couple’s romance. Each case represents a single moment in the relationship.

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This case, no 74, Tarik Bey, represents the girl’s father. Pamuk comments that it gave him ‘the opportunity to play around, years later, with familiar objects that were used for completely different purposes’. Some of the items reminded me of items left behind by my own father. The whole exhibition made me feel that it would be possible to use objects in my work to recover memories or feelings in a way that could communicate with others, without being morbid or twee.

Of another case filled with large cologne bottles, Pamuk comments that it reminded him of home and that this

‘.. .filled us simultaneously with the cozy feeling of being together at home in our own family sphere and with the disappointing sense of being insufficiently ‘modern’. My grandmother’s cabinet … also filled me with the same conflicting emotions.’

How I identify with that!

There was a short film of him talking about the idea for the Museum and how he went about creating it. He says he wondered: ‘Is it possible by looking at objects we might see our memories as if they were a film?’ Elsewhere he commented that in collecting these objects, ‘… we are not moved by the fetishist’s desire to possess things but rather by the wish to know the object’s secret.’

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‘Smoking Hands’

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Orhan Pamuk talking about the Museum